Burlwood: Why Is It So Popular?

Burlwood: Why Is It So Popular?

15th Jan 2024


When you’re looking at wood options for any project, you may come across the term burlwood, especially lately, as this material is making a tremendous comeback. Since it’s a rather unique wood, it’s worth diving into the topic a bit more to understand what burlwood is and what makes it so popular now.

What is Burlwood?

Burlwood has a very distinct look, marked by swirls and pronounced grain patterns. Unlike most other wood options, it’s not specific to one type of tree. Rather, burlwood is a specific wood grain that occurs when a tree is experiencing stress, damage, fungus infection, or even insect infestation. Under these conditions, the tree will produce swirled growths with unique grain patterns. These large, knobby growths can occur anywhere on the tree – even underground – but are most commonly found at its base. These growths produce burlwood.

Depending upon the specific source of stress for the tree, the grain patterns can leave a stunning outcome on the wood. It becomes distorted, creating an unusual grain that is often entirely different than the rest of the wood from the same tree.

Why is Burlwood Popular?

Burlwood has never really been out of style, and it has been used since ancient times when the Egyptians and Greeks used it to fashion bowls, cups, and other household objects. In the modern era, it first surged in popularity in the 1920s in art deco designs. During that time, it was commonly used to create sheets of veneer to adhere to furniture. Burlwood reached its height in popularity in the 1970s; since then, it has experienced less popularity until recently, when interest in burlwood surged again. There are several reasons burlwood is highly popular:

  • 1.It’s unique. The biggest reason burlwood is desirable is for its look. No two burls will create the exact grain or pattern since they are impacted by the tree’s age, stressors, and type of tree. With other woods, you can be sure that most pieces constructed with the same wood will appear similar. However, with burlwood, you can be sure that no two pieces will look the same! Therefore, you can rest assured that you have a piece that nobody else will have. And with striking patterns and grains, burlwood furniture can add a bit of glam and distinctness to any home. Consumers tend to favor unique designs with rich textures, contributing to the recent rise in popularity of this type of wood.
  • 2.Burls occur naturally. While it’s true that all wood occurs naturally, unlike other woods, burls cannot be farmed. They can take an incredibly long time to form (sometimes more than fifty years). This trait makes burlwood highly sought after and valuable since there’s a limited supply of burls. Additionally, the swirls and patterns in burlwood create a highly unique grain that cannot be artificially duplicated.
  • 3.It is usually added to other furniture or used for accent pieces. Because burls are limited and frequently aren’t incredibly large, it is challenging to fabricate entire pieces of furniture with a single burl. It can also be cost-prohibitive. Therefore, it’s still common practice to create veneer sheets that can be layered on top of other wood or furniture materials. This process ensures that you get the unique and distinct look of burl while also making the piece more affordable and realistic. Burlwood is not only used for furniture. It is also used in many small accent pieces, such as frames or small bowls. These pieces are a great way to add contemporary style to any room.
  • 4.It’s incredibly durable. Burlwood is known for its durability and strength. It is thick and resists splitting, making it an ideal woodworking material. This feature is why we see burlwood used so frequently in furniture pieces.

Burlwood is a unique material, with no two pieces looking the same, meaning that burlwood items are often treasured for decades. It is a great way to showcase natural beauty with an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The intricate patterns and grains found in burlwood can ensure that any piece featuring this wood is a unique work of art!

While burlwood is appealing, some cautions exist when purchasing and working with this material. To learn more about selecting burlwood responsibly and choosing the right type for any project, contact Global Wood Source today!

Global Wood Source is a family-owned and operated lumber yard and mill specializing in exotic woods from around the world and rare domestics. We personally acquire and inspect each piece of log and timber obtained from forests and jungles worldwide.